Palma.—On the afternoon of Saturday, 27 July, Peter Bush was walking in North Devon when he got the call about the fire that had broken out the day before and that his property had been damaged.

The quickest he could get over to the island was the Monday and sure enough, the out house adjacent to his old stone property had been totally gutted. “A lot of damage had been done to the building and my land but I count my blessings that the flames did not get into the main property. “The interior has been damaged by the smoke and intense heat and I think another half and an hour and the fire would gave got through into the main property. “The devastation in the outhouse was amazing, the heat was so intense even aluminum and glass items were destroyed and, in one of the wardrobes in the main house, I found a pair of shoes stuck to the floor, the intense heat had melted the soles,” Peter explained yesterday.

He is currently staying with neighbours while Peter deals with the insurance company and waits to have his water and electricity reconnected. “We live along the old Estellencs to Andraitx road, just down the valley from the main road which is still blocked. I think, from what my neighbours, some of which are still very upset and get very emotional when we talk about the damage which has been done to the environment, the bulk of the fire went right across the top of the valley, so in a way I think we escaped the worst of it although, it got close enough to have the area evacuated. “And, my land to the rear of the house was still smoldering for days, I was going out regularly with buckets of water to douse the embers but the rocks were still burning hot and the heat was very deep into the ground, the blaze must have been extremely fierce. “I think it's all out now but you can still smell it, so their must be pockets still smoldering and like I said, the devastation is overwhelming. “I left this place a beautiful lush valley and returned to a moonscape, I have to admit that last Friday, while talking to my insurance assessor I had ‘a moment', everyone is still very upset about what has happened to our once beautiful surroundings and this is a protected nature reserve. We had to install the electricity underground... “But, there's been a great sense of camaraderie. The local telephone engineer has got us all back on land lines and even Wifi and Internet despite the fact the original telephone cables are all melted and still dangling from broken telegraph poles which are hanging above the houses. “A lot of ingenuity is being used, but those responsible for clearing this up and repairing the damage, be it the local infrastructure or the environment face a mammoth task. “I've certainly never had to confront a fire like this, nor have many of my neighbours. We all remember the S'Arraco fire which reached the top of the valley but this, this has been a total ecological disaster. “But, I have to praise the emergency services, fire fighters and the military. To have mustered so many people and airplanes from all across the country so quickly was very impressive and probably made all the difference. In the end, no one lost their homes, no one was seriously injured or even killed, great organisation, but the question has to be asked, how can this happen? “I think we need to be looking into building greater fire breaks and other protective measures,” Peter Bush said.